Counter Reformation

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In order to understand the Counter Reformation one must consider the political factors and motivators behind them as well as the belief factors when examining clashes with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church during 16th century experienced a reformation that was both politically and belief driven. The Catholic Reformation also known as the Counter Reformation allowed the church to clearly define its position, eliminate unchristian practices and examine its role in world. This paper will address the political motivators of the Counter Reformation, the unchristian practices that fueled corruption and the clearly defined religious concerns of reformers. It will establish that the use of patronage and nepotism ultimately undermined the spiritual piety of the church. Also, the movements that brought spirituality back to the church will be addressed along with those movements that led to separation from church. In detailing the events and character of this era and analyzing the outcomes of reform it will be concluded that the Counter Reformation was the beginning of a stronger church and an end to an era that quite possibly could have led to the dissolution of the Catholic Church. One must understand the political make up of the Catholic Church during this period prior to addressing the reforms to the church. The church was far more than a religious institution. The Catholic Church was supreme in Europe. The power of the pope was total and this was supplemented by the power the Holy Roman Emperor had as temporal defender of the Catholic Church. Even though the church had no determinate territory it was a state. It had a monarch as a pope, it princes in prelates and its subjects in Western Christendom. It had legislative assemblies in ecumenical councils, a constitution in cannon law, and fiscal agency in the Curia. It went to war, negotiated treaties and collected taxies. The church was the Holy Roman Empire with a stronghold throughout Europe. But this would quickly change.(www.History) At the time of the reformation there was great concern that the Old Church with all its history and tradition was in trouble. This concern came from both within the church and outside the church. Protestant and Catholic reformers alike were troubled by the corruption in the church and its inner workings. Reformers saw that the Christian faith had in many ways been taken captive by a religious system more interested in politics and social accomplishment than in following the example of Christ. They saw the church and its leadership filled with corruption and greed. The Renaissance popes who led the church were not spiritual leaders. Those at the top of the clergy were wealthy and lived lavish lifestyles. They indulged in nepotism, power politics and patronage. Furthermore, the priests at the bottom were poor and unable to administer to the multiple parishes in their charge. Thus it can be said that Counter Reformation was a response to a need for clarity in purpose. But also, one can also say that the Counter Reformation was a natural and necessary response to the Protestant reformation. Catholic reform was slow until after the Protestant Revolution began to make serious in roads upon the ancient faith. A variety of Protestant sects had made their ways into almost half the nations of the Europe by the 16th century. Catholics were dismayed by the great increase in unorthodoxy. Many claim that the Counter Reformation was initiated to win back lost souls. Thus it can be said that the Counter Reformation was a response to maintain and gain back the followers. (Bossy)

There were a variety of movements that initiated reform within the church. The Catholic Church during the Middles Ages had lost much as a religious institution. During this period ignorance and corruption in the church was insidious. One only has to look at the church leaders in Spain as evidence. Some priest didn't even understand the Latin in the mass,...
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